“Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

It is the responsibility of parents to discipline their children.

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).

“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15).

“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24).

“Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17).

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

“Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:9-11).

Let us examine an important text about raising children: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

“Children obey your parents in the Lord.”

Children are told to obey their parents and their parents must teach them to obey.

To do this effectively, the parents must give the child a good example by obeying God themselves!

The man must fulfil his responsibility as leader in the home. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them” (Colossians 3:19).

And the wife must submit to her husband. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18). “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:23, 24).

Notice that the children are to obey both parents. But how can children obey their parents if the parents tell them different things?

When there is conflict between the parents, some bad parents even use the children as a way to rebel against the other parent. This is very bad for the children and the children will try to use one parent against the other. If one parents tells them to do something, they will run to the other parent.

Parents must support each other’s authority. As head of the house, the father may overrule something his wife has said, but he may only do so if it is something very important. Otherwise he must support what his wife tells the children to do and punish them if they do not obey their mother.

The wife may not contradict what the father tells the children to do, but must support his authority. If she really thinks he is wrong, she should discuss it with him in private, and not in the presence of the children.

This all must be done in love. Then the children can learn to obey their parents.

“‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:2, 3).

Children are to obey their parents for the child’s own good. Children lack experience and can end up having a very bad life, and may even die young because of not obeying their parents. “The eye that mocks his father, and scorns obedience to his mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it” (Proverbs 30:17).

Parents who fail to teach their children to obey, harm their children and themselves. I know a couple in another country who told us once: “We do not invite that family into our home because their children do not behave. They pick up things that they should leave alone, and even break things. They do not obey their parents.” If you do not teach your children to obey, they and you will suffer. The children will also have trouble in school and in society if they do not learn obedience. And later they are more likely to also disobey God.

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4).

There are various ways that a father can provoke his children to wrath: if he is a hypocrite and demands things of his children that he does not do himself; if he is unfair in his dealing with his children; if he favors one child above another; if he is lazy and does not meet his responsibilities in the home. Children are not stupid. They know if they are being mistreated by their parents and this can make them very angry. This is not referring to a child not liking punishment. Of course a child does not like being punished. That is the whole idea of punishment! But if the father does something that the child knows is not right, it can cause the child to develop a deep-seated anger. Fathers must avoid provoking their children to wrath.

I want to show you an elephant. This paper weight is valuable to me personally because I remember it being on my father’s desk when I was seven years old. There was something else on his desk for which I had great respect: a ruler. My father spanked me with that ruler when I did something that was very bad. When I did “little things” that were wrong, my mother would give me a swat on my behind with her hand or she might even give me a real spanking with her hand. But if I did something serious, she would say: “I’m going to have to tell your father about that!” And then I knew I was in big trouble! But I never remember being punished by either of my parents when I did not know in my heart that I deserved it. I am thankful that my parents loved me enough to discipline me when I was a child.

Parents must have great respect for the children God gives them: “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

How you talk to your children is important. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). This also applies to how we talk to our children.

Children may never be abused verbally! My parents always treated me with respect, and I never remember either of my parents saying anything to me that was demeaning or caused me to question whether they respected me and loved me.

If you holler and scream at your children. They will holler and scream back at you. If you say disrespectful things to your children, that teaches them to say disrespectful things to others, including you.

You must be consistent and not make fake threats. If for example you say: “You do that one more time and you are getting a spanking.” They do it one more time, but you do not give them a spanking. That teaches them not to pay attention to anything you say. Be very careful about saying what you are going to do unless you really plan to do it.

I must also point out that there is a big difference between a spanking and a beating. You may never beat your child. A beating causes physical injury. A spanking does not cause injury. There is a good, well-padded place that is suitable for a spanking. It hurts a little but does no harm.

Also, never punish your child while you are out of control because of anger. It is alright to be angry, if you still have control of yourself and do not do or say something wrong because of your anger. It is good for a child to know that certain things make his parents angry. Certain things we do, make God angry!

“Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

This means that we are to teach them about God. We spend much time and effort providing our children with nourishing food for their bodies. They also need spiritual food. Admonition refers to encouragement to do what is right. Training refers to teaching them to actually do what is right. We must know the word of God ourselves to teach it to our children. And we must live according to the word of God because example is the most powerful teacher.

Moses emphasized this to the people of Israel.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7).

“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 11:18, 19).

Bringing up children in the training and admonition of the Lord is a full-time job! Let us pray for wisdom and help.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.

Published in The Old Paths Archive